Last Monday I visited Echuca Regional Health and spent time with some wonderful volunteers enjoying a well-deserved morning tea from the board of management to celebrate and recognise their terrific work and contribution to the community. Whilst there I was joined by some of ERH’s great staff, as well as CEO Nick Bush, executive director of nursing Judy Dyson, board chair John Quirk and board members Chris Bilkey and Geoff Kelly to announce on behalf of the Minister for Health that the Andrews Labor government would be providing $6 million for a new cancer and wellness centre at ERH, a transformative and life-changing facility for the people of Echuca.
The centre will include 10 treatment bays and greatly increase the capacity to treat more cancer and dialysis patients every year. This is in addition to $1.14 million for new operating theatre equipment as part of the regional health infrastructure fund and $57.1 million in financial year operational funding for ERH provided by the Andrews government this year, which is a staggering 47.8 per cent increase on the amount funded by the coalition in their final year of office. The volunteers, staff and board members were overjoyed with the news.
Imagine my surprise on my way to the next appointment, listening to the news on the radio, when the voice of the opposition spokesperson for health came on the radio criticising the announcement, just as she did a few weeks ago in this place on the free dental vans. Respectfully, President, can I strongly suggest to the opposition spokesperson for health that she familiarise herself with the words of the Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler?